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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Arrests Made in Minsk Subway Bombing

VOA News April 12, 2011

Authorities in Belarus have detained several suspects in their hunt for those responsible for the Minsk subway bombing that killed 12 people.

At least 200 people were wounded by the rush-hour blast Monday at a subway station in the heart of the Belarusian capital. Government officials say it was clearly "an act of terror," because the bomb was filled with small pieces of metal, intended to cause maximum casualties.

Prosecutors say several people have been detained in the investigation. Belarus' domestic security agency said it has identified the probable leader of the bomb plot and is searching for him.

President Alexander Lukashenko visited the blast site Monday, then hurried to an emergency Cabinet meeting. He said he suspects outside forces looking to undermine peace and security are behind the blast, and he vowed to turn Belarus "inside out" to find those responsible.

Opposition leaders say they fear Lukashenko will use the attack to justify an increased crackdown on dissent.

The president said the subway blast may have been carried out by those responsible for a similar bombing at a rock concert in Belarus in 2008.

The Belarusian security agency, which still goes by its Soviet-era name KGB (the Committee for State Security) did not identify its chief suspect in the case.

Other government officials said the Minsk blast was not a suicide attack but more likely a remote-controlled bomb placed at a bench in the capital's main subway station, Oktyabrskaya, which is only about 100 meters from the presidential palace.

Tension has grown in Belarus in recent months because of economic problems and the disputed December presidential election, which Lukashenko won by a landslide. The opposition and international observers called the vote fraudulent, and there were mass street protests - some marked by violence - in which hundreds of people were arrested.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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